Mallett Holding Multiple Roles

FAYETTEVILLE — Ryan Mallett put on a green jersey, jogged to the scout-team huddle, and did his best at free safety during Monday's practice.

The Texarkana, Texas native, and Arkansas' quarterback of the future, watched a play go left. He reacted quickly and moved in that direction, but it was too late. A ball carrier slipped into the end zone.

The touchdown didn't deter Mallett, though.

"I feel like I'm playing Pee Wee football again," he said. "It's fun getting to do different things. The past five years have been just quarterback. It's kind of fun to be able to do something different in practice."

Don't panic Arkansas fans. The Razorbacks haven't made a bizarre move like shipping the strong-armed, 6-foot-6, 255-pounder to safety this preseason.

Mallett, who transferred to Arkansas after spending his freshman season at Michigan, is being used as an all-purpose player while he sits out the 2008 season because of NCAA transfer rules. He remains a quarterback first, but has been asked to hold down multiple roles for the Razorbacks as they prepare for the Aug. 30 season opener against Western Illinois.

In addition to his occasional work with as a scout-team safety, Mallett also has been acting as a part-time punter — of sorts. On Tuesday, he stood behind the line of scrimmage with a football in his hand during punt team drills, reared back and tossed high spirals 40 yards downfield to Arkansas' return men.

"He's just doing what we're asking him to do," quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee said. "(Petrino) does a good job with, these kids do what we want them to do. We don't give them any options."

But Mallett said he doesn't mind the extra duties.

In fact, he and Petrino met in the summer to discuss his role this fall. They talked about running the scout-team offense during game weeks. They talked about his need to improve as a passer. And they talked about all the other responsibilities he could fulfill.

Mallett said his message to Petrino was simple: He's willing to help in any way possible.

"It's what a teammate should do," Mallett said. "That's how I feel a teammate should act. If the coaches ask you to do something, you do it. If nobody else wants to do it, you jump in there and tell them you want to do it. That's how I treat things."

His attitude has already left an impression.

"It's definitely a sign of leadership," receiver Reggie Fish said. "All leaders have got to be able to follow first. He's showing he can follow and also lead."

But it doesn't mean Mallett has abandoned work on what he does best: Throwing the football.

Other quarterbacks like Casey and Nathan Dick have been getting more work in team drills, but Mallett has spent plenty of time under center. McGee said it's important because Mallett must become more fundamentally sound. Improving his footwork, knowledge and consistency is a goal this season.

He also has to learn how to harness his arm strength. Mallett can zip the ball better than any other quarterback, but it's not always a good thing. He was 1-for-6 during Sunday's scrimmage.

"He's got a great attitude and he'll have a good redshirt year," Petrino said. "He's learning and he's working hard on his technique. ... One thing Ryan has to learn is he doesn't need to throw that 98 mile-an-hour fastball every time. So he's working on when to take something off the ball and that helps catchers."

Mallett knows that watching from the sidelines will be difficult, but understands it does have its perks.

So he said he's going to try to make the most of it by improving as a quarterback. And he'll keep filling in at positions like free safety when the Hogs need him.

"I can play a little scout defense on the goal line and stuff," he said. "If I don't have to run very far. If I have to run a long way, you don't want me in there."

Ryan Mallett

Position: Quarterback

Class: Sophomore

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 255 pounds

Hometown: Texarkana, Texas

Notables: Must sit out the 2008 season after transferring from Michigan last winter, but will have three years of eligibility remaining. ... Played in 11 games as a true freshman for the Wolverines in 2007, completing 61 of 141 passes for 892 yards with 7 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. ... Started three games in place of injured starter Chad Henne. ... Was named 2006 Gatorade High School Player of the Year in Texas.

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